Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Please let me know if you cannot hear me or if I'm not speaking clearly enough.
We do welcome this opportunity to appear before the committee. We particularly welcome the opportunity to receive advice and recommendations pertaining to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
Madam Chair, I would like to make my opening statement in English, but I am prepared to try to answer any questions in English or in French.
I'm here today with my colleague from Environment and Climate Change Canada, John Moffet, who will be providing a detailed overview of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Before that, I would like to take a few minutes to talk about some of the key initiatives that we have undertaken under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in order to better protect the health and environment of Canadians. To that effect, I'd like to talk briefly about the chemicals management plan and the air quality management system, both initiatives that fall under CEPA.
Heath Canada works closely with Environment and Climate Change Canada in implementing parts 5 and 6 of CEPA related to chemicals and organisms. This work included the categorization of 23,000 existing substances that were in use in Canada prior to the creation of CEPA in 1988. That means substances that had not been assessed for risk to Canadians or the environment. Through the categorization process, 4,300 substances were identified by our departments as requiring further attention.
A key goal under the chemicals management plan is to ensure that by 2020 all of these 4,300 substances will have been assessed for potential risks, both to the environment and to health, and subsequently managed as appropriate. Between 2006 and 2016, our departments have assessed approximately 2,700 substances and have implemented or are proposing to implement risk management actions for approximately 300 of these. We are about to embark on the third phase of the chemicals management plan, with the objective of assessing a further 1,550 substances over the next five years.
The CMP, or chemicals management plan, has also allowed us to better integrate our departmental chemical programs and to continue to assess and, as required, manage some 450 new substances in Canada each year. So it's for both existing and new substances. It is recognized that even after we've assessed the 4,300 categorized substances, we will still need to manage those determined to be harmful to human health or to the environment and to consider new science that could trigger a need to reassess existing substances. So the work will continue. It needs to go on to ensure that we stay up to date and, as I said, reassess substances as the science indicates.
It is important to note that international partnerships and collaborations are key in being able to effectively and efficiently identify and manage chemical risks. For example, joint efforts pursued through the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations Environment Programme help us in sharing knowledge, expertise, and information on chemicals. It allows us to learn from others and equally for others to learn from us.
Canada has used its engagement on chemical issues to increase efficiency in program delivery through regulatory, scientific, and technical co-operation. In addition, Environment and Climate Change Canada engages internationally to manage substances that cannot be managed exclusively via domestic means. In a number of cases, we work to negotiate legally binding agreements, such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the Minamata Convention on Mercury. We have to ensure that domestic measures are implemented to comply with the commitments and obligations under these conventions.
Under the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council our departments are actively engaged in aligning some risk assessment and management approaches with the U.S. environmental protection acts, specifically through the development of common approaches to identify priorities and to address emerging risks that are shared by both countries. This co-operation internationally is integral to our moving forward with the chemicals management plan and effectively managing chemicals in Canada.
Canada is also leading the development of a resolution on sound chemicals management at the 69th World Health Assembly this coming May. The purpose of the resolution is to broaden the health sector engagement in chemicals management domestically and internationally, with the goal of reducing the impact of chemicals on health.
I'm going to move from chemicals management to air quality, because I think that's another significant issue that we do address through CEPA.
As with chemicals, Canada has supported global action on improving air quality through the World Health Organization. Canada supported a resolution last year on addressing the health impacts of air pollution. The resolution recognizes the global public health effects of air pollution and calls on the World Health Organization to develop a path forward for enhanced global response to the adverse health effects of air pollution.
In 2012, the World Health Organization stated that approximately four million people around the world in the year 2012 died prematurely as a result of air pollution, particularly in vulnerable populations in developing countries. The WHO also reported in 2013 that there are approximately 900,000 premature deaths in Canada as a result of exposure to fine particulate matter.
Canada will contribute expertise on quantifying the health impacts of air pollution with the WHO and monitor and report ambient pollutant levels through our national air pollution monitoring system in Canada. We also work with Dalhousie University in monitoring air pollution globally through the use of satellites. This is intended to help the WHO have a better handle on air pollution globally.
We also have expertise in calculating the health and economic benefits of actions to address air pollution, and on raising awareness and building capacity on air health issues among the health sector.
Turning our attention to the air quality in Canada, air quality is generally good in Canada, but collaborative action is required to keep clean areas clean, and to promote continuous improvement of air quality. In Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada is leading, with the support of Health Canada, actions to improve air quality with the objective of having a national approach to air quality management. It's called the air quality management system and it's under the authority of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. It is intended to replace the traditional patchwork of approaches we have used to manage air quality across the country. This is a collaborative approach involving our two departments. It involves all provinces, territories, and aboriginal peoples, and engages both industry and health and environmental non-governmental organizations in developing and implementing ways to improve air quality across the country.
More specifically, we focus on developing new, more stringent air quality standards called CAAQS, or Canadian ambient air quality standards, based on protecting both health and the environment. Each standard will have defined management levels beneath the standard that indicate levels at which action is required to prevent the air quality of a region from deteriorating, or with the intention of keeping clean areas clean.
It's not just a pollute up to standard; we have levels below that standard that require action to improve.
Under the leadership of Environment and Climate Change Canada new base level industrial emission requirements will be put in place as a backstop for provincial and territorial requirements to ensure reduced emissions. In addition, air zones are being set up across the country to engage governments, municipalities, and stakeholders in monitoring and managing local and regional air quality. This is a means to actually get people on the ground locally and regionally to be actively engaged in addressing the air quality of their environment.
In addition, Environment and Climate Change Canada, together with Health Canada, will continue to work with the United States to address the challenges of transboundary air pollution under the Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement. This has been quite an effective tool in reducing emissions. It was initially set up to look at acid rain, but it is now extended into a range of air pollution issues where we try to ensure consistency in terms of standards and approaches. However, our standards tend to be more stringent than those of the United States.
In summary, our work is based on collaboration, engagement, and consensus building, coupled with a solid foundation of science and research, and supported by strong federal legislation and particularly the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
We do look forward to hearing your views and recommendations.
Thank you very much.